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James Miller Williams


James Miller Williams dug the first successful oil well in North America in 1858 and operated the continents first integrated oil company, "The Canada Oil Company". He was a pioneer manufacturer of refined illuminating oil from petroleum and began shaping a market that would change the lives of millions. He recieved 2 gold medals from the British Government, one for the initial discovery of oil and one for the best manufactured oil.


At Oil Springs, Ontario, he constructed the first "still" for the refining of oil and made the first extensive shipments of refined articles to foreign countries - recognized by contemporaries as the pioneer oil refiner and largest entrepreneur from 1858 to 1862. He helped make the first survey of the village of Oil Springs, Ontario (the original oil patch of North America).


Career Summary:

  • 1855 Purchased "gum bed" holdings from Tripp brothers.
  • 1858 Dug first successful oil well in North America.
  • 1860 The Canadian Oil Company incorporated as the first integrated oil company in North America.
  • 1862 Awarded two gold medals in International Exhibition, London.
  • 1867 Elected to Provincial House of Assembly as representative for Hamilton.


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